Written in 1970 by Paulo Freire before he was forced into exile in Chile, The Pedagogy of the Oppressed is one of the most important education books you may have never read.
We may well blog more about this but, for now, have a look at this list from his descrpition of a ‘banking concept of education’ where children come into to have ‘deposits’ made into their heads. Does it describe your school and, if not your practice, maybe of some of your colleagues?
- the teacher teaches and the students are taught;
- the teacher knows everything and the students know nothing;
- the teacher thinks and the students are thought about;
- the teacher talks and the students listen — meekly;
- the teacher disciplines and the students are disciplined;
- the teacher chooses and enforces his choice, and the students comply;
- the teacher acts and the students have the illusion of acting through the action of the teacher;
- the teacher chooses the program content, and the students (who were not consulted) adapt to it;
- the teacher confuses the authority of knowledge with his or her own professional authority, which she and he sets in opposition to the freedom of the students;
- the teacher is the Subject of the learning process, while the pupils are mere objects.
To this he adds the following lines, echoing Bernard Shaw’s comment about the ‘unreasonable man’ adapting the world to him and not being reasonable and adapting himself to the world:
It is not surprising that the banking concept of education regards men as adaptable, manageable beings. The more students work at storing the deposits entrusted to them, the less they develop the critical consciousness which would result from their intervention in the world as transformers of that world. The more completely they accept the passive role imposed on them, the more they tend simply to adapt to the world as it is and to the fragmented view of reality deposited in them.
It is a very powerful book, especially relevant in the current political educational climate in the UK and elsewhere.